Orland Kurtenbach, hockey’s “Big O,” in his days as the first captain of the Vancouver Canucks (debuting in 1970). He would later coach the team.
They said, to a man, that going on the road was just what the doctor ordered. That getting away from Joe Louis Arena on a four-game losing streak isn’t such a bad thing, after all.
They were right—at least for one night.
Tomas Tatar wristed a harmless shot toward Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo late in the second period, the puck slipped between Luongo’s pads, a 1-1 tie was snapped, and the Red Wings beat the Canucks, 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Canucks coach John Tortorella could be seen by the FSD cameras after the soft-as-Charmin goal, muttering to himself, “I f**king knew it,” though I’m not sure what he meant by that.
Regardless, the Wings’ four-game losing streak is over, so is the Canucks’ four-game winning streak, and the four-game road trip got off to a smashing start.
The Red Wings needed this win, badly—as badly as any team can need a win 13 games into the season. Their world seemed to be collapsing around them, as opponents were racking up shots on goal like 45s by a 1950s DJ.
In Vancouver, the Red Wings came out of the gate playing with the urgency that coach Mike Babcock felt had been sorely lacking as of late. They checked, they skated, they got into the corners and mucked it up.
All that, and the Canucks went ahead, 1-0 in the first period on a goal by Daniel Sedin.
No matter. As Chris Osgood astutely pointed out on the FSD broadcast, if the Red Wings kept playing as they did early on, and if they stayed patient, they’d be rewarded.
The Canucks only had seven SOG in the first period. This, after the Red Wings surrendered 40 on Saturday night against the NY Rangers, Tortorella’s old team.
The Canucks got half the Rangers’ total—20 measly shots. That ought to unclench Babcock’s jaw for at least one night.
BOTTOM LINE: The Red Wings worked their way out of a losing streak in Vancouver. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t pretty. It was just two hard fought points in a season that is likely to be filled with them.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: The move of Todd Bertuzzi to the first line, adding him to the Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg dynamic, was Babcock at his best. Bert’s strength, soft hands and guile are a great complement to the EuroTwins.
Red Wings-Canucks, circa 1970